A trans-generational marriage is a marriage where there is a significant age and/or maturity disparity between the two parties. When an older man is dating a significantly younger woman, he is, for the most part, regarded as a “dirty old man” and she, a “gold digger”—until the couple is officially married. Thereafter, he is simply regarded as an older husband and she, his young wife—unless, of course, he is extremely wealthy, in which case the young wife retains her pre-nuptial characterization, only intensified. In the much-less-visible cases of significantly older women dating younger men, such women are regarded as “cradle-robbers” or “cougars,” and their young men are viewed as gigolos—until marriage, at which point the women are labeled as “nymphomaniacs” and their young husbands, “opportunists.” Where the older women are exceedingly wealthy, their post-marriage status reduces to “fool” and their young husbands’ are elevated to “shrewd.” But regardless of the scenario, the institution of marriage tends to impart an overall degree of dignity, no matter how minute, to such relationships. In many societies today, men are not able to marry each other. So for the most part, when an older man forms an intimate union with a younger man, their relationship tends to be described by outsiders as one between a “sugar daddy” and his “boy-toy.” And in the jurisdictions where same-sex marriages and unions are legally recognized, the sugar daddy/boy-toy characterization tends to continue into the marital phase of the relationship, though with an elevated sentiment—especially when the older man is not exceptionally wealthy and/or the young man not exceptionally beautiful.
When an older person marries a younger one, the onus is on the older person to make concessions for those age-consistent characteristics of the younger spouse that may present challenges in the marriage. In trans-generational relationships, the older spouse is at once parent and spouse, and the younger person is both child and spouse. The fact is that the older person has already lived through the stages being experienced by the younger; and just as the older spouse, in his younger years, should have had the opportunity to experience life, so should the younger. To do otherwise would be the equivalent of telling a pre-teen that he should not eat candy because sugar is bad for his teeth, or asking a teenaged boy not to masturbate. The major challenge of trans-generational marriages is that neither spouse is fully prepared to deal with the maturity level of the other spouse. But between the two, the greater responsibility for accommodation falls upon the older for the reasons presented above. Very few older spouses, however, are confident or self-assured enough to endure the emotional challenges that are likely to arise in trans-generational marriages. A good beginning-point for tackling such challenges, however, is for the older spouse to revisit his life when he was the age of his younger spouse. (See above, “The Social Evolution of a Gentleman Within His Lifetime—An age-line”). The ability of the older spouse to empathize with the younger spouse is crucial to the success of the marriage. And the younger spouse must be willing to sympathize.
Though relationships evolve, the impetus for many trans-generational relationships is sexual attraction and an admiration for the vivacity of youth on the part of the older spouse, and financial security and respectful admiration on the part of the younger spouse. But it is oftentimes those very things that can complicate such relationships, for the longer the marriage endures, and the older the older spouse becomes, the less sexually compatible he becomes for the younger spouse. And the more financially secure the younger spouse becomes in his own right, the less relevant the financial security provided by the older spouse becomes. So, like a candle burning from both ends, such is the nature of many trans-generational relationships. And while the financial security issue tends to be less divisive where there is true love between the parties, the sexual incompatibility issue tends to intensify with time: A 20-year-old is more likely to find a well-preserved 45-year-old sexually attractive than is a 55-year-old likely to regard a well-preserved 80-year-old as sexually attractive. And if the younger spouse is anything like the older spouse, when the older spouse is in his 80s, the younger spouse will be sexually attracted to people 20 years younger than he/she—people in their 30s, not people in their 80s. The solution in such circumstances, therefore, is for the older spouse, again, to make the accommodation, thereby allowing the younger spouse to satisfy some of his sexual needs outside the marriage. And the older spouse should also do all within his power to maintain his physical appearance and mental health. It is the responsibility of the younger spouse, however, to ensure that his extra-sexual relationships do not intrude upon his sexual, emotional, and spiritual commitments to his spouse; his extra-sexual relationships cannot rise above the level of hedonistic sex (See chapter, “Sex in the 21st Century—No Holds [or Holes] Barred!”) if the integrity of the marriage is to be preserved and nurtured. In addition, recognizing the dignity of marriage, it is incumbent upon the younger spouse to ensure that his/her interest in extra-sexual relations be openly discussed with his/her spouse (The older spouse should be quite capable of comprehending that interest since it was those very trans-generational sentiments that led to the formation of his/her marriage.); that there be mutual agreement; that the extra-sexual relationship be handled with utmost discretion and respect so as to preserve the dignity of the marriage and that of the older spouse; and that the extra-sexual relationship never take precedence over the duties and responsibilities of the spousal relationship. In cases where mutual agreement cannot be achieved, the younger spouse must honor the wishes of the older spouse since sexual incompatibility in the later years of marriage should have been anticipated at the formation of the marriage. Such is the proverbial marital bed made by trans-generational couples, so the younger spouse must be prepared to lie (no pun intended) in that bed. The moral of the story, then, is that trans-generational marriages, though not impossible, are exceedingly complicated. And very few people possess the level of maturity required to commit to and maintain happiness throughout such unions. It would behoove a gentleman, therefore, to exercise extreme caution before entering a trans-generational marriage or union.